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Things I Gave Up On

An Incomplete List of Things I've Given Up/Put on Hold

Goal and Audience

Over the past five years I’ve started to realize exactly how limited my attention is. This post is an attempt to demonstrate that.

This piece might be relevant if:

  1. you’re internet stalking me,
  2. you’re assessing my ability to focus,
  3. or you’re looking for more on what I’ve previously done.

Things on Hold

Here are some things I no longer focus on, in approximately chronological order.

  1. Being a professional chef

    • I used to want to be a chef when I was in kindergarten. Or, rather, I’d dress up as a chef for Halloween. Until I decided that I could no longer dress up for Halloween because it felt like lying about who I was. I am aware of how silly this sounds. If you say anything I will beat you over the head with my toy spatula.

    • I still cook though!

  2. Being a gymnast

    • When I was very small I was told I could no longer use some of the equipment because I had gotten too big. This was very upsetting.
  3. Being a baseball player

    • I didn’t realize it but I definitely needed glasses. I hit a triple once and that was the peak of my career. Amazing given that I couldn’t really see the spin on the ball.
  4. Trumpet

    • I was quite bad at trumpet. I also don’t like that you can’t play multiple notes at once. It’s still a beautiful instrument. I’m just really bad.
  5. Track and field

    • One coach said something about how “all of the best track stars are brothers,” which looking back on it was a crazy thing to tell your athletes. I kept running cross country for like five years though, and while I wasn’t the fastest it taught me how to run. (I was really not very good. The furthest I ever ran was a 10k, and my fastest 5k race was like barely 20 minutes. But I ran!)
  6. Being an architect

    • There is another world in which I’m fighting for my life in the CMU Computer Science + Architecture program. (Buildings, not computer architecture.) My aunt and uncle - both architects (maybe it’s genetic) - told me not to do it.

    • I once had a piano teacher tell me that if you can imagine yourself doing anything with your life except for music, then you should pursue literally anything else. I suspect architecture is the same way. When I was choosing between Brown and CMU I did some numbers on expected work hours. CMU came out to 70/week. (Which honestly didn’t sound that bad, given it’d be interesting work. But it’s good hainvg the flexibility to think about where my time and energy goes.)

    • There’s still a vague pipe dream of going to the GSD after my retirement from tech, but I’m pretty sure it’ll only ever be a daydream.

  7. PhD

    • My dad did a CS PhD. (It was technically EE, but it was on distributed systems.) For a long time I thought I’d do the same. Then I did research in CS Ed and in privacy-compliant systems. It was fun, but I didn’t like how indirect its impacts felt. A PhD is clearly not for me (right now).

    • This makes me the first person in my family to not get a graduate degree, which I know sounds silly but it was the default path when I was growing up. Maybe it means that I’ve independently arrived at my own goals. (As if that’s ever really possible.)

  8. TAing

    • I actually do like TAing! I think it’s fun and educational for everyone involved. I learned how to teach and how to manage a team and how to communicate with a boss. TAing was great - it just takes a lot of time and there are diminishing returns. Better to hand off the reins & figure out what I’d rather be working on. (I think it’s entrepreneurship, for now.)
  9. Subletting startup

    • My first startup (see Ours) eventually landed on subletting, and got a decent amount of traction. We seriously considered pursuing it. Ohana was our biggest competitor. They got real money from Neo, which meant that we could get money from someone else — but it wasn’t a good problem for our team. I think housing is an important space. It’s just not the space that gets me going.
  10. Climate startup

    • A similar story here (see Prior Art). I have no doubt that climate tech will be big. I just don’t know that I currently have a good angle into it. I’ve yet to find a climate problem for which I’m a good match. But this is still a space that’s interesting to me, and I’m always happy to talk about new ideas.
  11. Recruiting startup

    • I spent the first few months of 2024 interviewing people at all levels of talent acquisition in an attempt to find a problem that might be worth turning into a startup. My current conclusion is as follows: I’m sure recruiting will look substantially different in ten years, but I’m not sure how. This is another area that remains interesting, so if you’ve got an exciting new take on talent I’d love to hear it.

This list will grow. But nothing on here is ever really written off… who knows?


Learn about me / my values / my experiences. Comments are always welcome; feedback is a gift. I'm always looking for more reviewers, so let me know if you'd like to read my unreleased drafts.

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